March 11 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, December 29, 2013
“People increasingly want to know the back-story behind the food they buy”, says a young ex-management consultant who has quit the rat race to open up her own fine foods shop in Islington.
Charlotte Bowers, 25, from Yorkshire, thought opening a business, her life-long dream, would be an unattainable goal until she was at least 30 – but now she’s found herself in the final stages of stocking out her Amwell Street shop to start trading in the new year.
Charlotte’s Fine Foods will stock artisan food, with many of the items sourced from UK producers.
“We’re going to have a range of oils and vinegars from UK producers – people think they need to go to the continent to get these things, but there are plenty of people in the UK who have products worth supporting.”
She added that her market research showed people were increasingly concerned about where their food comes from, so she had selected items based on their individual stories.
“We’re going to stock Ogilvy’s Honey – it’s made by this guy who was in the Territorial Army and discovered honey while in the Balkans. He’s now become an exotic honey hunter and goes round the world looking for the best types.”
Ms Bowers hopes to provide items people can’t get in the supermarket “so it doesn’t feel like a small Waitrose”, and while starting off with just kitchen cupboard essentials, she hopes to expand to providing bakery-style items later down the line.
“I wanted my own business because there’s this whole feel of control and freedom, but I think people feel starting up a business requires a lot of capital and that’s what first put me off.
“But I was surprised how that wasn’t the case.
“I wanted to work in an area I’m really passionate about and, like for a lot of people I expect, food gets me out of bed in the morning.”
Before moving into the luxury food business, Ms Bowers had worked for just over a year at South Kensington management consultancy firm The Storytellers, and believes her financial background helped her develop a strong business plan.
“While we dealt with mainly big national and multi-national companies, my time in the field taught me the pitfalls I want to avoid in business, and it was extremely helpful in giving me a grounding in how that whole industry works.”